Defense officials: Acquisition process too cumbersome

It is a moral injustice when speed of delivery for troops in harm's way on the battlefield lags woefully behind the technology that is at their disposal at home, according to the Defense Information Systems Agency CIO.

Acquisition reform is something the Defense Department has been talking about for at least two decades, said CIO John Garing. Cultural challenges are what are preventing DOD from speeding up its acquisition processes, he added.

"It is to me a moral issue," Garing said, "that young people in Iraq in their early 20s or late teens leave their homes where they have high-speed Internet and yet we can't seem to do that because we get in our own way."

"The speed is an issue. Requirements are an issue [as is] our ability to move quickly and produce things that people can touch and feel before they grow old," Garing said. He and Kevin Carroll, the Army's program executive officer for enterprise information systems, addressed an audience this morning during the executive breakfast at the FOSE trade show sponsored by PostNewsweek Tech Media, the parent company of Washington Technology.

Also slowing the acquisition process for defense IT systems is that there are too many people that must sign off on an acquisition before an agency or service is given the green light to proceed, according to Carroll. In addition, the department expects its agencies to lay out a program's requirements years before the program is even developed, Garing added.

"Fifty-five people in the Army have to say yes. Fifty-five people in the DOD have to say yes. That doesn't make sense," Carroll said, conceding that while there need to be checks and balances, acquisition decisions should be accomplished more efficiently.

Dawn S. Onley is a staff writer for Washington Technology's sister publication, Government Computer News.

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